Six of the best

Zoe and graceI’ve now been working on Taking the Field for six whole months, and to celebrate I’ve selected my six very favourite digital stories from the website.  Please listen to them and let me know if you agree.

Here’s the count down…

At six – A Good Place for People to grow up

ABPh116a - Friday night youth (2)

I like this one partly because I’m just drawn to the lovely voices.  It’s an aspect of oral history I really enjoy, the tone of a voice gives so much more feeling than reading words in a book.  As to the content, I love the fact that the club has been a home to Fred for such a long time and that it’s just as central to the lives of today’s children as it was in the 1950s.

At five – How a feather and a glacier mint were a must for cricket coaches in Chirbury in the 1930’s

This shows that the neglect of cricket in schools is not a new development.  I wish I could have met Mr Shaw, it sounds like he provided the type of cricket lesson I would have responded well to!  I’m looking for someone to teach me cricket at the moment but no one I know who plays will volunteer, if only I had a Mr Shaw in my life.

At four – In at the Deep End

CWPh289 - Club Day 11 (action)

I just love the drama of this story, it’s well told and really easy to imagine the moment and the bowler’s emotion.  (Plus I just love the ‘ASBO’ line!)

At three –  Grounds (1): The tea ladies and Royal Hill Road

I love the historical documents and photos in this one, you really feel like you’re getting a good look into their history.  The video’s great too, (although I didn’t know who Brian Clough was and had to look him up).  My favourite thing about this one is that it once again demonstrates the amazing contribution women have made to their clubs since the very beginning.

At two – Playing for the Pits

Ernie Barber rescue team

I feel this one gives a fascinating glimpse into a lost world.  I was brought up in a mining village (although not in Wales) so I think this story represents part of my heritage, I can just about remember how much the closure of the pits transformed our community.  It makes me quite sad.

At one – The Final Over

My very favourite story!  It’s another sad one, but I actually find it quite uplifting.  I won’t spoil it – listen for yourselves.

Darky waiting to go in - away at Savile Stars 2011a

(If any of you are in clubs/know of clubs who’d like to get involved with TTF, please get in touch – you never know one of your stories might make my next top six!)


Filed under bowling, children, club cricket, Cricket, cricket grounds, digital stories, History, oral history, school cricket

Cricket: A Gentleman’s Game?

short leg

Great new story on Taking the Field this week ( Charlotte Horton, who has played for Derbyshire Women and Western Australia Women, talks about her time playing for Wirksworth and Middleton CC.

In recent years there has been an effort in the media and cricketing establishments to promote women’s cricket, this can give the impression that women playing cricket is quite new, but it women’s role in the game has actually been a significant one from it’s origins.

woman bowling

My ‘Origins of cricket’ post a couple of weeks ago featured a woman bowling in an early form of cricket in Medieval times.

This image from the Bodleian library's 'The Romance of Alexander' c. 1340 appears to show monks and nuns playing an early form of cricket together.

This image from the Bodleian library’s ‘The Romance of Alexander’ c. 1340 appears to show monks and nuns playing a form of cricket together.

…so women may well have played cricket from it’s very beginning.   The first recorded game, however, was in 1745, the Reading Mercury reported “eleven maids of Bramley and eleven maids of Hambleton, dressed all in white, the girls bowled, batted, ran and catched as well as most men could do.”  In the years following the women’s game became quite popular with a game in Sussex in 1768 attracting a crowd of 3000.

One of the best known facts about women and cricket is that legendary cricketer WG Grace was taught how to play my his mother, less well known (well I found it surprising!) is that women may have invented overarm bowling.  It is claimed Christina Willes used to bowled overarm to her brother in the early 19th century to avoid getting her arm tangled up in her skirts, he then tried the method out at Lord’s and the rest is history.  Whether this is true or not may never be known but women have certainly been at the heart of the game’s development.

(If you want to do any further reading about the history of women’s cricket I recommend – Maiden Over by Nancy Joy and Mad Dogs and English Women by Pete Davies)


Filed under Cricket, History, oral history, women's cricket

Dead kangaroo anyone?

me in empty stand

Busy week here at the MCC library (if not in the stands!).  I’ve been working on lots of enquiries, I had one about the fixtures of the first Aboriginal tour of England in 1868, one man wanted to know what 1902 Lord’s looked and ‘felt’ like for a chapter of a children’s book he’s writing that features a cricket match.  I also had a rather tedious task that took half a day looking up book reviews for every book written by Eric Midwinter over about 15 years, so glad when I found the last one!

My ‘show and tell’ this week doesn’t involve any of my enquiries though.  I’ve picked a rather interesting menu card for a welcome dinner given to the 1904 England touring team when they arrived in Australia.  It was found by my colleague Heather.


What first attracted me to this item was the marvelous cover.  The lion pummeling the kangaroo is pretty standard Ashes contest imagery.  What’s a little more unusual is the crazy grasshopper thing holding a sinister looking canister which appears to be emitting clouds of some kind of gas.  What does this mean?  Can anyone shed any light on this?  I was also intrigued by the fact that Warner has brought a bag of dead kangaroo to Australia with him, very strange and most unpleasant.  Is he bringing it to the dinner for everyone to eat or is it just a gift for his hosts?  It’s enough to put me off my dinner but maybe the items on the menu would tempt me…

menu 001aAt the risk of appearing utterly unsophisticated I have to admit that I have no idea what any of these dishes are!  Are they really posh dishes or is it just ordinary food written in French?  Again, can anyone enlighten me?

The final thing that drew me to this item was the entertainment laid on for the touring team.


I love the names of the dances, especially ‘Cozy Corner Girl’.  Also I just love the idea of a team of cricketers getting together for a Waltz and a Two-Step etc.  I can’t help but picture the modern teams having a go at this, Prior, KP and Broad et al all twirling and two-steping around a ballroom, mind you most of them will end up on Strictly eventually so maybe it wouldn’t be so strange.  What do you think?


Filed under archive, Australia, British Empire, Cricket, England, History, MCC

Recognise this?


Where is this?

MCC needs you!  (Well, your help recognising this picture any way).

My colleagues in the archive are busy sorting and cataloguing Estates Department files from the 1930s to the 60s.  The Estates Department deals with the grounds and properties of Lord’s and Alan was going through a wonderful box of material relating to the care of pitches and the construction of artificial pitches.  Among some photos of grounds staff testing out various rollers on the nursery ground he found the picture above, it’s not Lord’s so where is it?  Can any of you help?  The sanity of the archiving team may depend on it!



Baffled and confused – they need your help!

If anyone can help us please send me a message.



Filed under archive, cataloguing, Cricket, cricket grounds, History, Librarianship, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC

On the Origin of Cricket

At the home of cricket seeking the origins of cricket.

At the home of cricket seeking the origins of cricket.

The origin of cricket is rather obscure.  In Ralph Dellor and Stephen Lamb’s ‘History of Cricket’ they speculate that primeval man may well have played a bat and ball game similar to cricket as a form of hunting practice!  But they offer no evidence of this and concede that cricket as we know it was probably first played by shepherds in Kent “as a means of whiling away the time spent watching their flocks on those upland pastures.”  The name ‘cricket’ as also of obscure origin, Trevor Bailey in ‘A History of Cricket’ says it derives from an Anglo-Saxon word ‘cricce’ meaning staff or crutch as early cricket may have been played with a staff and got its name that way.  Simon Hughes however in ‘And God Created Cricket’ offers the horrifying possibility that cricket may have been invented by the French!  The word ‘criquet’ was a word for a stick and ball game introduced into English by the Normans, the French Normans also had the word ‘wiket’ meaning small gate and ‘beil’ crosspiece.  Henry Blofeld in ‘Cricket and All That’ maintains a more English version, that cricket originated from the word ‘creag’ that was used to describe a ball game played by Edward I in around 1300.  The Wisden Illustrated History of Cricket also refer to ‘creag’ but feel the reference is unreliable and cite a 1598 reference to ‘crickett’ as the first reliable reference –  in a legal dispute over land a witness states that he “did play there at crickett and other plaies.”

So the books in the MCC Library don’t quite agree.  Andrew did find this nice little four part pictorial history in a newspaper clippings file which I think tells the story rather well.

focus on fact 1

focus on fact 2

focus on fact 3

focus on fact 4


Filed under archive, Cricket, England, History, Librarianship, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC

Two against eleven

Found a lovely brochure for an interesting match in 1936

1936 players

The match was played to celebrate and replicate a match played in September 1834 when Edward Wenman and Richard Mills, who both played for Kent, went up against 11 Isle of Oxney players for the high stake of £20 in what was described at the time as a “manly exercise”.  It’s said that 4,000 spectators came out to watch, even though the match was played in a “very marshy and thinly populated district”, lots of cash was placed in bets with most backing the 2 to be victorious against the 11.

original 2

The ‘Benenden 2’ batted first and made a partnership of 150 before Edward Wenman was bowled by a D.Nere for 65.  The situation meant that just one wicket had to fall for there innings to be over, it would have been quite an anti-climax for the 4,000 had either of them gone for a duck!  But as the match report says they took care with their wickets and “guarded them with as scrupulous care as a sacred relic would have been by monks of old.”

So next they took to the field, with one man bowling and the other presumably covering all fielding positions!  They bowled Oxney all out for a paltry 55 with ‘extras’ as top scorer on 22 (not bad with only one fielder to stop byes).  In their second innings the 2 scored a more modest 48 with Mills caught on 29, this left Oxney to chase 144 for victory.  They made just 77 with extras top scoring again.  The crowd were delighted and match report verdict “we must say that these two scientific players have achieved a triumph that will never be forgotten by those who beheld it”

Unfortunately I don’t have the same detail of the replica match result, I know that the 11 were all out for 153 in the first innings and the 2 replied with 186, but I don’t know how the match ended, if anyone does please get in touch!  I do know that Ashdown was the only first class cricketer to play cricket before World War I and after World War II (he came out of retirement at 48 in 1947 for one final match), but that’s all I had time to find out.

Incomplete scorecard from the 1936 match.  Can any of you fill the gaps for me?

Incomplete scorecard from the 1936 match. Can any of you fill the gaps for me?

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Filed under archive, Cricket



So what do I have to say about legs?  Cricket legs/legs of cricketers/legs through time?

I have very little to say.  I am home alone, sick (again!) Utterly isolated from the inspiration of my cricket archive and library.  Yet I want to reach out to the world through my blog, to feel that I am still a part of this world – but can think of very little to say.  Then trawling through the photos on my laptop I found the legs, I took the picture some time ago from an 1897 Cricket Annual and saved it for a future blog.  I was waiting to find an appropriate context to use it in, perhaps a piece on the changing physic of sportsmen for example, but I have neither the resources nor energy for such an article so am just giving you – A Study in Legs – standing alone without context or explanation.  Enjoy!

This is the third time I’ve been off this month with a cold/flu type ailment.  I’m utterly miserable and hope you all feel very sorry for me.  One of the worst things about all this is that I can’t even claim it’s anything more serious, I spent about an hour googling my symptoms using different words and phrases, but it all just kept coming back to ‘the common cold’.

I will try to be brave and hope to be back next week with a more interesting blog.

Here's a picture of me looking revolting, it case any of you doubted how sick I am.

Here’s a picture of me looking revolting, it case any of you doubted how sick I am.

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Filed under archive, Cricket

Pretty pictures of Lord’s

Here are some lovely pictures taken by Alan , who braved the cold so I didn’t have to.  Thanks Alan.

media centre in snow

Other than the excitement of the snow it’s been a standard week at Lord’s – done lots of interesting enquiries though – someone wanted to know about the sparrow killed by a cricket ball (which can been seen stuffed in the Lord’s museum along with the killer ball).  Another wanted to know about the balloon flight that took off from the second Lord’s ground in 1802.  There was a query about baseball being played at Lord’s, one on the history of cricket in Japan, one about the American Indian encampment that was set up at Lord’s in the 19th century!  So I’ve had lots to keep me busy.

pavilion square in snow

On top of all my enquiries I’ve been working on a really moving story from Rodley CC on Taking the Field.  I don’t want to tell you too much about it as it will spoil the surprise.  But keep an eye out for in on it should be ready in a day or so and is my favourite story out of all I’ve worked on so far (although terribly sad).

roller in snow

pavilion in snow

Not much else to report this week as we’ve been mega busy as we’re missing staff due to sickness.  I think the stress began to bite mid-week when there was a serious team bust up relating to cakes – a contentious issue in any work place.  Voices were raised and cruel words uttered, but we were all friends again by the end of the week

grand stand in snow

Hopefully my sick colleague will be well again next week, I’ve enjoyed dealing with enquiries but cataloguing seems to give me more opportunity to find interesting little articles to share on my blog.

close up pavilion in snow

Hope none of you are snowed in anywhere!

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Filed under Cricket, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, MCC, oral history

Men in pants


Haven’t had much time for the blog this last week as I’ve been beavering away with my cataloguing as well as battling a horrible cold and finding time to play with my bow and arrow.  I’ve seen lots of interesting and baffling things in my brochures and annuals thoughI’m always amazed by what books supposedly about cricket can actually tell you about the societies they’re written by, be it gender, race, class – all the big issues can be found somewhere in our cricket collection.  This week what has stood out as a fascinating issue in my annuals is the changing ideal of masculinity.  I have chosen to depict my findings through a pictorial collection of men in their underwear – enjoy!

We start in the 1920’s with the ‘An-on’, the Onesie of it’s day. Note that the model demonstrates his masculinity with his manly moustache and is clearly an athletic gentlemen, also note the availability of ‘super silk’ for the sophisticated sensually inclined man.

In the 1930’s the look is rawer, more minimalist and assertive. This man shows his confidence with his revealing undergarments, flaunts his manly figure with his stance and challenges us with his forceful, almost confrontational facial expression.

By the early 1960s things had changed once more, we now have a man at ease with himself and fully in touch with his feminine side. The image suggests he is far more concerned with avoiding ‘flaccid elastic’ than with proving his masculinity.

So what have we learnt?  Any comments?

Aside from exploring men in their underwear I’ve also spent this week working on a digital story from Kushil Gunaskera about the power of sport.  Please have a listen at


Filed under advertisements, adverts, British Empire, cataloguing, Cricket, England, India, Librarianship, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, Sri Lanka, underwear

Take to the slopes…at Lord’s!

sky logo

This is real!  In 1972 there was a plan to construct a ski slope at Lord’s to be used during the winter months.  The plan was actually under serious discussion for a number of years before being abandoned.

Like LOCOG, who were responsible for transforming Lord’s into an archery ground this summer for the 2012 Olympics, Lord’s Ski School Ltd wound take responsibility for any security requirements and for demolishing the slope at the end of the skiing season and returning the ground to normal (wonder what the groundsmen would have made of this!).

detailed plan for running the ski school.

detailed plan for running the ski school.

The ground was transformed for the Olympics...but it's still hard to picture a ski slope!

The ground was transformed for the Olympics…but it’s still hard to picture a ski slope!

Just when I think I’ve seen it all the archive reveals a new gem.  Hopefully I’ll have some more finds to share soon.

archive bright

So many treasures waiting to be discovered!

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Filed under archive, Cricket, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, skiing